Aldershot Garrison

    New guidance on Renewable and Low Carbon Energy

    On 29 July 2013 the Department for Communities and Local Government published Planning Practice Guidance for Renewable and Low Carbon Energy. The guidance replaces the companion guide to PPS 22, which is now cancelled.

    The preface notes that the guidance should be read alongside other planning practice guidance and the National Planning Policy Framework, and that it will ultimately be integrated into the online National Planning Policy Guidance.

    Support for low carbon energy remains strongly stated. However, a new key statement is that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override local environmental and heritage protections and the concerns of local communities, reflecting the localism rhetoric from Eric Pickles.

    Detailed guidance is given on how to undertake cumulative landscape and visual impact assessments, particularly for wind energy developments, though this does not appear to represent a change in policy direction.

    A notable point is that inflexible rules on buffer zones or separation distances are ruled out by the new guidance, and this has been seen as a significant win for renewable energy developers, particularly those involved with contentious wind energy projects.

    A main thrust of the guidance is that LPA’s should develop a planning policy strategy for renewable energy in their area, introducing criteria based policies for areas of search. The sting in the tail is the advice that, "where Councils have identified suitable areas for onshore wind or large scale solar plans, they should not have to give permission outside those areas for speculative applications involving the same type of development when they judge the impact to be unacceptable".

    Another potential concern is the statement in paragraph 6, that ‘whilst local authorities should design their policies to maximise renewable and local carbon energy development, there is no quota which the Local Plan has to deliver’, although this could cut both ways.

    A new matter in the guidance, applying to wind, is that paragraph 38 states that the energy output of wind turbines can be "useful information in considering the energy contribution to be made by a proposal, particularly when a decision is finely balanced". This may negatively affect decisions relating to marginal sites with lower wind speeds.

    In summary this new guidance provides some mixed messages, and certainly provides much less technical guidance than set out in the Companion Guide to PPS22. Whilst it appears there are no drastic policy changes that would affect development management decisions on renewable energy schemes, our concern is that the guidance sets out a route map by which LPA’s can introduce more restrictive development plan policies that could ultimately reduce the likelihood of obtaining planning permission in the future.

     
     

    Key contacts

    Andrew Fido

    Andrew Fido

    Associate Director
    Planning

    Savills Wimborne

    +44 (0) 1202 856 835

    +44 (0) 1202 856 835

     
     

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